I suppose I should introduce myself before I get started. My name is Mariah and I am the new Sustainability Writing and Marketing Summer Intern for Facilities Team Green (it’s a mouthful). I just finished my first year at the University of Rochester and I’ll be working a lot this summer doing things that I enjoy and trying to save up some money for next year.
Okay, so although it’s technically still spring, and of course this crazy Rochester weather is still sneaking in some cooler days, most have us have already started feeling like it’s summer. With summer comes vacations! They can be big or small and long or short, but be sure to try to give yourself at least one break before the snow comes back in August (insert laugh track). I’ve compiled a few lists to help you figure out how to make your travels as green as possible.
Getting to your vacation destination:
Air travel is your least sustainable option for anything less than 700 miles. Around 700 miles, the emissions per passenger produced by a plane are similar to the emissions per passenger produced by a train, but for anything less air travel takes the cake as the least earth-friendly mode of transportation. While it may be fast, it’s also extremely costly not only for you and your wallet, but for the environment as well.
Traveling in a car isn’t much better. Traveling alone in your car can be tedious, paying for gas is a concern, and you may even have to pay for parking depending on where you go. It also isn’t a very sustainable option. You shouldn’t need to travel much by car once you get to your vacation destination anyway, so try to avoid this option if it’s possible.
Trains aren’t too bad. Especially if you are traveling under 700 miles, a train is a decent option to get you to your destination in a pretty good amount of time.
Buses are your best option. Buses are generally the most inexpensive option and they also do the least amount of harm to the environment per passenger. Bring along a friend or a couple of family members, or even go solo! You can still have that road trip experience without the waste. Buses allow you to stow away your bag(s), most have air conditioning and a bathroom, and they can be pretty comfortable. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.
Getting around once you’re there:
Walking and biking are your most sustainable options. If you can get there on foot, do it. It’s your vacation; you shouldn’t have any important meetings or engagements, so slow down and enjoy the journey. Maybe you’ll find something cool along the way. If you’re in a city, and you don’t want to walk, try looking for a bike sharing system; they have become very popular over the past few years and the process is very simple.
Kayaking and canoeing are also pretty sustainable. If you decide to go camping by some water (I’ve always loved Letchworth and the Adirondacks), or just decide to vacation on a lake, rent a boat to help you get around in a fun and eco-friendly way.
If you travel to a large city, use the metro system. If it’s too far to walk, the metro system is a pretty good and inexpensive option to help you get around. It provides an excellent way to get places very quickly and can take you right to the heart of the action in most major cities.
Leave the iPad and laptop behind. Vacation isn’t the time to be doing any work and you definitely shouldn’t spend all of your time online. Take pictures on your cell phone or even on a camera (does anyone else still use a camera?) and upload them for your Facebook friends or Instagram followers to see when you get back. (Or, just leave it all behind and spend time in the moment; this is your greenest option.)
Buy local food. Your vacation is the perfect opportunity to try new foods. Each new place has something special to offer, and it may sound strange to you, but try to be open-minded and remember that the dish we’re famous for is called a “Garbage Plate.” Eating locally is a sustainable way to get to know something about the place you’re visiting and it is also a great way to support the local economy.
Explore and have fun! Enjoy your travels and be sure to stay safe. Let me know in the comments about any fun vacations that you are planning for this summer.
Written by Mariah Greico, Class of 2018